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Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Choose Lenses - PART 2

In the first part we talked about some basic decisions that have to be made before thinking of a set, especially about primes vs zooms. If you have decided which set of lenses (zoom or prime) you want to go for, then the next step is to realize what kind of photography you're mostly interested in. These can overlap, of course. And you might be tempted to think "I'll also have a zoom, just in case". Take my advice: DON'T. If you have a zoom, you'll be tempted to use it for its versatility. Then you'll be frustrated by the lack of fast aperture and/or image quality issues. It's either zooms or primes, that's how I see it.

Kinds of Photography:
  • Portraits
  • Landscapes
  • Macros
  • Sports/Wildlife
That's it folks. No more complex than that. These are the four kinds of photography most people are interested in. Each has its own needs, and each carries its own variations. Just because it reads "Landscapes", it doesn't mean only forests and rocks and gardens. Think: streets, backyards, general urbanscape.

When timing is critical, you better have the right lens!


Here are my lens suggestions, thinking in terms of value (minimum price, maximum performance). Remember that some of these lenses require a camera body with an AF motor

Portraits
For Zoom:
Nikkor 16-85mm

For Primes:
Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Landscapes
For Zoom:
Nikkor 16-85mm


For Primes:
Sigma 10-20mm*
* YES, that's a zoom! But @10mm, this is my preferred lens choice.

Macros
For Zoom:
Nikkor AF-S 16-85*
*There are better options for zoom macro, but if you need to get yet a third lens for a macro, you could as well get a prime. So, let's stick with this one.


For Primes:
Nikkor AI-S 105mm f/4

Sports/Wildlife
For Zoom:
Nikkor AF-S 70-300 VR



For Primes:
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8


From what you can see, if you're a zoom fellow, you can pretty much get away with a two-lens set. The 16-85mm and the 70-300mm. And, in the zoom world of normal wallets, these are probably the two best lenses you can get. The older 80-200 f/2.8 is good, but I'd go for the 70-300 because of the VR.

As for primes, you can see that you "need" more lenses. And these are a minimum set (For instance, I prefer the 35mm f/1.8 & 85mm f/1.8 over the single Sigma 50mm f/1.4). But these should take you quite far.

Summing Up:

For Zoom:
Nikkor 16-85 & 70-300 VR

For Primes:
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (OR Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8 & Nikkor 35mm f/1.8)
Sigma 10-20mm
Nikkor AI-S 105mm f/4
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8

These are what you need to pretty much cover all your needs. Realizing your priorities, means you won't be buying stuff you don't need. Not a macro lover? Congrats, you just saved couple of hundred bucks for a Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4. No sports or wildlife? Cool, a wide-angle Sigma 10-20mm and a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 will get you a long way.

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